Covent Garden acts fear 400 years of street theatre at risk from council clampdown

Performers say traditional fun could end by Christmas as Westminster enforcement vote looms

From the fire-eaters to high-wire walkers and knife-jugglers, the street performers of Covent Garden in central London have been drawing rapt crowds for centuries. The magicians, daredevils and illusionists are now attempting their most challenging trick yet: avoiding police enforcement of council regulations that they say could bring an end to the traditional fun at the historic market square by Christmas.

In April 2021, Westminster council introduced a fee-based licensing system for buskers and street performers. The council said it was reacting to complaints of noise pollution from businesses and residents, particularly around Leicester Square.

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